IRON MOUNTAIN, Mich. (WZMQ) – The signing of the county’s first Sexual Assault Response Policy took place at Iron Mountain’s Caringhouse last Wednesday.
The Caringhouse provides sexual assault and domestic violence services, and the non-profit’s Executive Director attended the gathering to sign the policy.
The policy was carefully considered by top survivor advocates working within the county, as well as the law enforcement agencies responsible for holding perpetrators accountable.
“We’ve been working on the policies for about three years, we’ve reviewed them, we’ve changed many things, we’ve had changes in staff and on Wednesday we reviewed, made sure that everything was up-to-date, and signed so that survivors in our community can get the best care possible,” commented Heather Strauss, the Sexual Assault Response Team Coordinator at the Caringhouse.
Strauss noted that the Caringhouse served around 290 cases of sexual assault throughout the last fiscal year alone, and that this policy was considered to make sure that each one of those cases are receiving the best care possible.
The Dickinson County Undersheriff, Aaron Rochon, is most worried about those that don’t report because they don’t know of the services available to them.
“The Caringhouse offers more than just support for domestic violence, because that’s what they are most well-known for…they also support victims of sexual assault” he said.
“So we wanted to kind of get this out there to make those victims aware that we’re here – whether it be law enforcement, the Caringhouse, any one of these entities… we’re here to support you.” Rochon stated.
The Dickinson County Sexual Assault Team at the signing also included other pertinent law enforcement and care agencies.
The Michigan State Police, Iron Mountain’s Police Department, Norway Police Department, Kingsford Public Safety, the prosecuting attorney’s office, and Marshfield Medical Center-Dickinson also had representatives sign.
The goal of the new policy is to make sure that response to sexual assault is immediate and consistent within the county to make coming forward as safe as possible for survivors.
Law enforcement will meet with the Caringhouse once per month to review cases and provide cohesion between the agencies on the Dickinson County Sexual Assault Response Team.
For more information about the Caringhouse and its services, visit caringhouseim.com